Blessed with pace, strength, awesome passing and a powerful header, Bayer Leverkusen's Burkina Faso defender Edmond Tapsoba has it all, including a nomination for the 2022 African Player of the Year award. But just who is the 6'4" centre back keeping Bundesliga attackers at bay?
bundesliga.com shines a spotlight on the ice-cool defender who made an instant impression in Leverkusen.
Club: Bayer Leverkusen
Position: Central defender
Country: Burkina Faso (30 caps)
Born in the Burkina Faso capital of Ouagadougou, the 23-year-old Tapsoba took his first steps in the game at local side Salitas before representing US Ouagadougou. Already a senior international before making his move to Europe, the defender joined the youth set-up at Portuguese side Leixões in 2017. A switch to Vitoria Guimaraes would bring invaluable experience, with Tapsoba learning the ropes with the club's 'B' team in the Portuguese second tier and it was of little surprise when he made the jump up to the first team for the 2019/20 campaign. Making 16 top-flight appearances and scoring four goals in the first half of the season in Portugal's top division, Tapsoba's excellent form drew interest from Germany and a move to Leverkusen ensued.
He made his first Bundesliga start for Die Werkself in a 4-3 victory against Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 21 of that 2019/20 season and his performance impressed then coach Peter Bosz so much that the African quickly became a regular. He ended with 22 appearances in all competitions for B04 in his debut campaign in Germany and it was noted just how comfortable the defender was playing in a back line that varied often in terms of tactical make-up.
Having become a fan favourite at the BayArena, Tapsoba has been given the freedom to showcase his incredible composure, speed, strength and exceptional passing ability. Despite suffering with an ankle ligament complaint last season and also taking part in the African Cup of Nations, he helped Gerardo Seoane's side secure their first top-four spot in six years, playing 22 times as an exciting Bayer team finished third. Ahead of what will be his fourth season down by the River Rhine, Tapsoba received an African Player of the Year award nomination from the Confederation Africaine de Football (CAF).
The powerful and super quick defender who boasts frightening heading abilities, made his senior international bow against Uzbekistan in 2016. In January's Africa Cup of Nations, he featured in six of Burkina Faso's seven games as they finished the tournament in fourth. In all, Tapsoba has won 30 senior caps to date.
Plays a bit like: Jerome Boateng
The legendary Bayern Munich defender, who made 364 appearances across 11 seasons for the Bavarian giants, was as cool and calm as it gets both on the ball and in the tackle while he was also famed for his pinpoint long passing that set up many an attack for the record champions. Tapsoba has similar traits and such is his eagerness to start forward thrusts, he has often been referred to as a defensive playmaker.
Did you know?
As well as speaking a local dialect of Burkina Faso, Tapsoba - who is called 'Eddy' by his Leverkusen teammates - can also communicate in English, Portuguese and French while with his German continuing to improve by the season and having a basic knowledge of Spanish, Leverkusen's No. 12 is a true polyglot.
What they're saying
"Tapsoba was one of the best centre-backs to play in Portugal, he deserves whatever comes his way." - Ivo Vieira, Tapsoba's former coach at Vitoria Guimaraes
"I'm basically always very calm and don’t talk much. I have my emotions under control in critical situations. If I’m annoyed I prefer to be quiet. For me it’s better to discuss problems after the event. I always want to stay calm on the pitch. I never actually get overexcited or wound up." - Tapsoba on his temperament
"It's a very old name with a great tradition that my predecessors carried. It means 'arrow'." - Leverkusen's central defender offers an apt translation of his surname
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